How to write better as an engineer. 6 useful tips.

This is more for persuasive writings and marketing type communications, rather than technical reports, and it certainly isn’t about grammar.

  1. Be more authoritative.
    • Just delete the “I think”, “I believe”, “It seems”, etc. Too many of those make your entire premise turn to mush. It lacks conviction. As engineers, we’re all critically aware of how many possibilities exist to be wrong, but when trying to persuade, leave those assumptions to the audience.
  2. Stop prefacing everything.
    • Get to the heart of it. If telling a story about a journey you took, talk about the path you went on, what you saw, the perils faced and how they were overcame, too many details that are irrelevant, will make it hard to follow the big picture. An example, my wife will tell me story about her visit to the veterinarian with our cat, and a weird thing that happened there. She’ll tell me about packing up, the car ride, the parking, the waiting, then finally the weird thing the vet did. The whole story was about the weird thing, but all the mundane details before it, got my mind wandering, and made it less exciting. 5 minutes painting a more detailed picture of the weird part of the story is much better than 4 minutes of lead up, and 1 minute of the weird part. The details to include depend on the audience.
  3. Think in terms of brevity.
    • If what you’re saying can be removed without losing the audience, it’s extraneous and should be removed. Don’t fill space, or waste someone’s time. If it’s important include it, if it’s overly repetitive remove it.
  4. Emotions win the day.
  5. Use active instead of passive voice.
  6. Write like you talk.